Interview with Ken and Angelique

The international worldwide streaming release of the zero-budget circus comedy film Bathroom is upon us. 

Never before has a film been more timely, relevant or cheaply made.

Ronald and Regina live in total isolation in a Bathroom. They belive that they have survived the Situation and are the only circus artists left in the world.

Tobin McDonagh, who appeared in the film as the Prototype interviews both Ken Fanning and Angelique Ross about their DIY lo-fi sci-fi circus movie. Both Angelique and Ken are members of Tumble Circus, Irelands pioneering, revolutionary circus company.

Ken’s answers

Did sitting on the toilet give you lot of inspiration?

Yes, we spent just under a week actually living in our bathroom. We stocked up on food, books and circus toys. We  made a bed, stretching area and a kitchen. We then shut the door and switched off the internet. We spent quite a bit of time sitting on the toilet reading and writing. It was during this time we wrote most of the movie.

Why did you make it in a bathroom?

We made it because it destroyed a bunch of illusions. The illusion that it’s impossible to make a feature length movie with no money. That it is impossible to make a feature film in one room and it is impossible to make a movie with cheap equipment on your laptop. But we did and we somehow managed to make it in between the cracks of our busy circus lives.

Could anyone really live in a Bathroom?

We did. As people are finding out you don’t really need much stuff to get by. A good supply of food, our musical instruments, pens and paper and of course our circus bodies and toys. The best distraction from the boredom was having fun. There were times when we needed to be understanding of each others space, but it was surprisingly easy and for most of the time enjoyable.

How did you go to the toilet?

One at a time and discreetly. It’s a big bathroom relative to the size of our small semi detached house in Belfast.

Why is this not a normal film?

It is not a Hollywood movie, we didn’t have any money, we had only basic equipment and no one had ever attended film school. We shot things quickly, we improvised the script and made up the story as we went along.  It was a-lot of fun. We made all the music and had some help with recording it. I then edited the film on my laptop in Paris while I was meant to be writing a circus show. It was never going to be normal. Normal is boring.

How did you deal with the smell?

We would open the window which opens very widely to the world, and it was early summer and surprisingly warm.

How much circus did you manage to squeeze into your bathroom?

All of it. We did acrobatics, aerials, juggling, bottle walking and clown. The film came about after our self imposed isolation in the bathroom. After our lengthy research we arrived at the conclusion that circus is really hard to do in a small space.

Is there toilet humour?

We threw the kitchen sink at this project, so yes you can expect some wee bits of toilet humour but also moments of poetry, moments of failed poetry and moments of accidentally funny poetry.

As an experienced isolator what would you recommend to pass the time?

Write a movie, thats what we did. Or write a novel, or learn how to bake bread.
Also its important to stock up on essentials, white wine, red wine, pale ale, whiskey and god forbid but if you have to sherry.

Did you run out of toilet roll?

No and we never expected to.

The Greek philosopher Diogenes the Cynic lived in his bath tub, did you reach any philosophical conclusion in the writing or creating of Bathroom?

Fuck Hollywood.

Did you manifest the coronavirus crisis?

Its is scary how relevant the film is in light of the coronavirus. We shot it in 2019 thinking this was an impossible reality. There was no way we could have predicted that a year later we would be living in a sort of similar reality that we imagined. 

What do you plan to do next with circus and film?

A utopian feel good movies where empowered women hunt the last remaining capitalist scum in a remote wood and then eat their flesh. There will be some circus in it.

Angelique’s Answers

Did sitting on the toilet give you lot of inspiration?

Yes, we locked ourselves in the bathroom for a week as research. Reading, playing music, writing songs, writing a lot of the script, exercising, cooking. We found loads of ideas while we were in there.

Why did you make it in a bathroom?

The absolute first idea was sitting hungover the morning after perth fringe festival flicking through The Perth Festival brochure. Ken asked me, what do you think we’d have to make to end up in here?
I told him not to be a plonker, we’d never be in Perth international.  Then we thought of Bathroom.
We listed off some of the most pretentious ideas we could think of, at the bottom of our second cappuccino came up with the idea of The Bathroom of Death circus spectacle.
We spoke a lot about the purpose of artists in society, how an artist should be an active citizen, make work that is not just commenting on but actively trying to change and better their community. Not locking themselves away becoming detached from society. 
So we decided to do that. 

Could anyone really live in a Bathroom?

People do. Part of the inspiration, circus in confinement, came from the Hong Kong ‘coffin apartments’ and people living, cooking, growing plants, sleeping and shitting in a room smaller than our Bathroom. 


How did you go to the toilet?

The same way anyone else does. And open the window. 


Why is this not a normal film?
We’re not qualified. We had and idea and made it happen. Made and stole the set, learnt instruments to play the music, shot it in the cracks of our normal life. I got off a plane from Australia and an hour later was walking on bottles… We told Neil we’d just shoot it in a week. 1 and a half years later he kept reminding us of that. 
I think the lack of money and resources and the fact we made it anyway is why it’s not normal. In the world of Hollywood and Netflix you don’t often see movies that don’t follow their aesthetics or rules.


How did you deal with the smell?

Open the window. a lot. 


How much circus did you manage to squeeze into your bathroom?

More than I expected. I’m used to adapting a little bit as circus is always hard to fit into spaces. But we managed a lot. To rig a trapeze, climb over the shower, handstands on the sink sort of thing. People are great at adapting to their situation. Our time in the bathroom reminded me of when I was living in a Hong Kong apartment I used to do my cardio and stretching in the tiny corridor between the 2 beds. There’s so many people right now posting their circus in confinement clips. I’ve seen loads of people juggling toilet paper, acrobatics on couches, even a trapeze rigged from a balcony!

Is there toilet humour?

Piles. 

As an experienced isolator what would you recommend to pass the time?

The boring answer; write out all the things you want to learn and work on, that you can realistically do in or around the house, no giant puppetry making, and fit them into a schedule. Aim to stick to it daily. 
The other answer. Read loads, watch and listen, decide you want to be inspired and you want to fight for change. Feed and fill yourself with ideas, become a capitalist killing machine.


Did you run out of toilet roll?

People are so worried about running out of toilet roll. No we were fine.  


Diogenes the Phyliopher Greek Cynic lived in his bath tub, did you reach any philosophical conclusion in the writing or creating of Bathroom?

DIY is the best philosophy. DIY keeps you from being alienated from your work. It also proves that creativity is for everyone, art isn’t exclusively for the artists to produce, it is for everyone to utilise and live creatively. 
I learnt that if you don’t do it now it’ll never happen. I learnt things don’t have to be and shouldn’t be perfect. Otherwise you’ll never finished anything. That you have to abandon work rather than finish it. That’s a good lesson for me.
And that it’s good to trust and follow through with your ideas, even if they are a bit bonkers.


Did you manifest the cornavirius crisis?

Life makes art and art makes life… But no, bats did. 


How has being a circus person influenced the vibe of this film?

It was always easier for me to be physical than remember any of the script. We sacrificed the story to fit circus in there, it became more absurd because of that. We wanted to keep in the circus because that’s what we do and love, it’s unique and we didn’t want to be pushed too far down the Hollywood style of having to tell a perfect narrative driven story.

What do you plan to do next with circus and film?

With film I want to make more and learn more about the music and soundtracks to the short films we’re going to make in isolation. We’re planning, over the breakfast table, a feminist anti-capitalist, witchy horror film in the woods. 
When we get out of our house, I’m starting work on a duo circus street show. We want to challenge the status quo with circus and guerrilla gardening.

The film can be found at https://gum.co/sKCQU and can be streamed at a cost of 4 pound. See the trailer below.

Ken and Angelique Bios

Angelique Ross grew up performing and teaching in community circuses throughout rural Western Australia.  Now based in Belfast, when she’s not being stood on and thrown about by Tumble Circus, she can be found touring her solo show SPIT nationally and internationally. She is known for making bold and evocative circus.

Ken Fanning is a circus legend fring hero and maverick film maker. He had completed 4 feature length film 10 full length circus shows and raised a clown army in defence of the nation imagination. He has won awards for both his circus work and film work. He also hold a criminal recored in both Germany and Iceland, but want the world to know that he is a successful dad.